Post # 1
SO my fiance and I met long distance and dated long distance for 5 years. 2.5 years ago he moved to Texas to be closer to me (yee haw!). Thanks to all the legal hullaballoo we have been legally married since Dec. 2008, but I was still in school then and we didn’t want to really consider ourselves actually married until we had a public religious ceremony and celebration with all of our family and friends! Only our parents know that we legally married, and they are 100% behind us all the way. Just before I graduated May 2010 from college, Mr. Tuna proposed! I was ecstatic. It feels to us like we are about to GET married… not that we are already there.
So now the wedding– we are getting married in Wales near where Mr. Tuna’s family lives. Well, as some of you might know, the marriage laws in the UK are a little archaic (and that’s the word used by an English officiant!). Apparently we will have some major difficulty having a marriage ceremony in the UK because we are already legally married. We want a Christian ceremony but are using a secular location (a terrace at the hotel overlooking a BEAUTIFUL lake with a tower coming up out of the water)
I mean seriously! You can see why we love this location! Plus, in England it’s really hard to get married in a church if you don’t LIVE in the immediate area.
So our remaining choices are…. get married by a Humanist officiant (who might be reluctant to do a religious-toned ceremony), a minister of some kind who is actually willing to perform a marriage outdoors (very rare in England from what I understand) or a friend/family member! The draw back of the first two is that they would only be able to perform a ceremony called a “Marriage Blessing” in which their wording has to be very careful… i.e. they can’t say “I now pronounce you man and wife” (because legally we already are) and a few other things like that. Theoretically a family member or friend would be able to say whatever they want and no one would be the wiser. Official officiants (no pun intended) have to be more careful because they can get in serious legal trouble!
I think our first choice would be a minister, and after that I’m not sure. There’s no specific friend/family person that pops into my head to do the ceremony for us. An uncle of Mr. Tuna’s has offered, but other than that, I’m having trouble identifying anyone who has the right combination of panache and know-how (plus a super close relationship with us).
but I’m really looking for someone here with a wider knowledge of English tradition and law than I have… anyone with any suggestions or comments or anything would be exceedingly useful to me.
Have any of you gotten married in England? Have any of you gotten married in another country and had difficulty with the legality of it all?
I appreciate all of your help in advance!
Post # 3
I might be able to help a little because I live and was married in Wales 🙂
Firstly congratulations, and can I commend you on an excellent country of choice for marriage! Just to warn you when dealing with registras, vendors, Mr Tuna’s family/friends etc. the Welsh are an incredibly proud nation and are not a massive fan of being called English! I’d hate for you to get a negative reaction for this small thing!
Unfortunately, religious ceremonies are strict. I’m not sure I know of any religious ministers who will marry you outside a religious building e.g. church and the state registras are only legally allowed to marry you in a properly registered building. This could be the registry office, city hall, and specially licensed hotels, museums, castles etc. We really don’t go for outdoor venues as much as in other countries, mainly because of the weather here! No lovely texan days for the British!
As you say i’m not sure i know of any of the main Christian denominations who will do a full wedding ceremony (rather than the marriage blessing) if you’re already married. However if you haven’t done so check with the church in wales as they are the most lenient of the Christian churches. I have been to marriage blessings though and they are lovely and formal and certainly feel very real – if you see what i mean. It might be worth asking to see the wording of the ceremony before ruling it out, it might not be as bad as you fear!
I have been to an outdoor humanist ceremony in the UK. The couple had a fab outdoor venue near a lake. The day before the “public” wedding they went to their local registry office and married legally and the following day had a full wedding inc. dress, wedding party, readings, formal dinner etc. Thank goodness the weather was amazing which was a risk and the humanist minister was great. She worked with them on creating the service and had religious elements and definitely pronounced them man and wife! They had originally asked a friend to be the officiant but he couldn’t do it due to work commitments but the humanist minister they used was great and i would definitely recommend looking into that option.
I’m sorry you’re disappointed about the differences with options over here, but both the wedding blessing and the humanist option might not be as bad as you think – good luck with whatever you decided and i wish you a lovely Welsh wedding 🙂
Post # 4
@CazS:ah CazS i feel like such a cow for saying that! I know much much better, having been with Mr. Tuna (born in England, but grew up in Ireland) for almost 8 years now! I haven’t even finished reading your post, I was so appalled by my error! my only excuse is that i’m so frazzled by the prospect of not finding someone to marry us that i was distracted. here i go quickly to edit my post and then to read the rest of your comment! thank you for your correction!
EDIT: well it won’t let me edit the first post… I should clarify though: the reason for my mistake i now realize is because the people I have talked to about the different options have all been *English* while the actual situation I am dealing with is in Wales. But in response to your recommendations, CazS, you made quite a case for both the marriage blessing and the humanist ceremony. It seems difficult to contact many officiants in Wales by email… I’m sure it’s just because I’m not there to get their email addresses in person, but I haven’t found many websites for humanist officiants in Wales or for Church of Wales priests/ministers online. As you might imagine, talking on the phone might get very pricey very quickly and the time difference makes it difficult as well.
After reading what you had to say though, I plan to contact my planner at the hotel in Wales and see if she can possibly call the few numbers I do have for me even if it’s just to get their email contact info.
Thank you again for the friendly critique and the good advice!
Post # 5
I’m a foreigner marrying in England too so I know all about it! To tell you the truth, I think you are much better off already being married. As you point out, the legally valid ceremonies are very restricted in several ways. A legally valid marriage ceremony can only be performed in licensed premises and this must include a ‘permanent structure’, which essentially means a building of some sort, so wedding ceremonies outdoors on a beach or a meadow are not possible. Secondly, the language required is very strict, there are certain phrases and declarations which have to be included and cannot be changed. Thirdly, you would not be able to have a legally binding religious ceremony outside of the church.
But because you don’t need your ceremony to be legally binding you actually have a lot more flexibility! If I were you, I would try to talk to the local vicar and explain your situation, maybe they’ll be willing to do a blessing outside of the church. If that doesn’t work you’ll have to try and find an officiant or family member/friend to perform the ceremony for you. It may take a bit of searching but I’m sure you’ll find a good solution!
Let us know how you get on, and if you have any other questions about traditions or expectations! The English/Welsh/Scottish can be tricky to figure out some times 🙂
Post # 6
That location is breathtaking!!
I’m a Texas girl marrying a brit also, I wanted SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO badly to marry in England, I feel your pain, the laws and rules made it nearly impossible, so he’s coming here, we are marrying in Vegas and we’ll have a reception/party in England. His uncle is a vicar so he will do a blessing for us as well so it should work out nicely.